Are you a good enough coder to win €5,000? Applications for EU Hackathon now open

Participants are up for up to €5,000 in cash in EU Hackathon 2016

MEP Therese Comodini Cachia and NSTS Programmes Administrative Co-ordinator Stefan Cutajar
MEP Therese Comodini Cachia and NSTS Programmes Administrative Co-ordinator Stefan Cutajar

Maltese coders and hackers can win up to €5,000 in cash if they manage to win the EU Hackathon 2016.

The event is being organised at Google’s offices in Brussels over November 15 and 16: the winner claiming the first prize will go home with €5,000 in their pocket; the second prize is of €2,000 and those in third place will get a €1,000 cash prize.

Organisers of the hackathon want to develop an algorithm that helps protect copyrighted material, with the aim to combine data and academic research from various sources to help create a clearer picture of the issues at stake in copyright, as sometimes the full story is difficult to grasp.

Encouraging Maltese hackers and coders to participate, PN MEP Therese Comodini Cachia said no Maltese participant has ever took part in the competition. This is the second edition which Comodini Cachia is co-hosting.

“The event brings together young people from all over the EU with policy makers and leaders in the digital industry,” Comodini Cachia said, adding that industry leaders like Google, Mozilla and Creative commons were among the sponsors for the event.

Participants will have their accommodation, travel and meal costs during the days of the event covered.

“I know there is a lot of potential and talent in the fields of digitalisation and ICT in Malta, and I truly hope that youths will make use of this unique opportunity to interact with people from different nationalities as well as leading companies in the field to learn and continue developing their skills,” she said.

Comodini Cachia added that the subject of this year’s competition was Copyright issues, a matter which had been at the heart of EU parliament and commission discussions for some years.

“We hope to be able to develop some sort of an algorithm to allow artists and researchers to obtain information about any data or material they might be using in as little time as possible,” she said, adding that the EU’s ultimate aim was to safeguard and encourage the creative industries and culture and to balance the reach of these creations, while at the same time ensuring an income for artists.

“We want digitalisation to qork hand in hand with creativity and culture not to destroy it,” the MEP added.

She went on to explain that an example of a project would be the creation of a programme to allow internet users to search the internet for images and associated copyright data immediately to ensure that no accidental breaches are made and to also ensure that artists are paid for their work.

“I truly believe that more investments need to be made in educating young people to learn more about the digital sphere and to allow them to build the necessary skills to assist them in their daily skills,” she said.

Comodini Cachia stressed that such skills in Malta would mean that the country can prepare for future changes and ensure economic and social growth in that self-same future, given the increasing reliance on everything digital.

Participants in the competition may be of any age, but people under the age of 18 require parents’ consent, and it is advised that participants apply for the project in groups.

“Applicants do not require any past experience but they ought to have a general idea what their project will be about,” she said, adding that applications, downloadable on - closed on the 1st September, with participants being informed of their participation by the end of October. Those interested will be asked to fill in the application form, as well as to write a bio of around 1,000 words to describe their interests and backgrounds.

Applicants will be invited to develop some ideas ahead of the event, but the actual project was to be carried out during the 2-day event. The MEP added that projects would be assessed even if they weren’t fully completed during the event itself.

National Student Travel Foundation (NSTF Malta) Programmes Administrative Co-ordinator Stefan Cutajar explained that NSTF was a supporter of the EU Hackathon as it continued to support educational initiatives in the Sciences and ICT and digitization sectors.